Work Trips & Healthy Living
Work trips, they are a blessing and a curse. For one, you get to step out of your ordinary life for a few days, explore new cities, drive through new areas and meet new people. But, it can also be extremely difficult to stick to a healthy routine and is especially challenging for vegetarians and vegans. SURPRISE… not every area of the United States is “vegetarian friendly.” In fact, in my preparations for my upcoming conference in Peoria I began searching for dinner and lunch options and found close to NOTHING suitable for a healthy balanced vegetarian diet. I was surprised because it is A. a college town, and B. one of the larger cities in Illinois outside of Chicago. So, I began preparing Make Ahead solutions for the road. Here are a few Make Ahead options to carry along with you as well as a few food travel tips should you find yourself in a similar situation.
- Breakfast -
Yes, there is the hotel breakfast, BUT it’s hardly ever a healthy option. Bagels, waffles, sugar cereal, these are okay in a pinch, but if you can plan ahead you can bring along a healthy breakfast that will satisfy you until lunch. This time I took along my Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole. I simply divided the casserole into reusable containers and packed it in a cooler and popped it into the hotel fridge. Two great vegan options include our Gingerbread Raisin Granola or Pumpkin Spice Granola with vegan yogurt or almond milk and our Sweet Potato Casserole Oatmeal. All of these options contain enough protein to allow you to pass on the sweet treats in the hotel lobby on your way out.
- Lunch -
I know from experience, that the only options at this conference are for meat eaters. Hotdogs, pepperoni pizza, burgers, fried chicken, even if I was a meat eater, I couldn’t eat that for three days straight. So, I pack a lunch! My go to this time is perfect for vegetarians & vegans. my Chickpea Salad Sandwiches are a good source of veggies, protein and they taste amazing. I simply made the sandwich filling at home, toasted three whole wheat buns, topped it with tasty cheese (not vegan) and wrapped each sandwich in foil. I love this option because I can eat my lunch without heating it and it is also mess free. I also packed a few of my favorite crackers, apples, carrots and hummus to add to my healthy lunch. Oh, and don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your day.
- Dinner -
I have to admit, this is where I let myself explore and be social. I use a website called Happy Cow to search for Vegetarian friendly places or I enjoy pizza with coworkers. I always make sure to book a hotel that has a gym so I can get in a good workout before indulging and enjoying the evening. If I am alone on my journey, I search the aisles of Target and make a mini spa experience complete with face masks, soft music and my favorite TV shows.
Gingerbread and Raisin Granola
It’s been snowing nearly every weekend this month and it actually feels like we are closer to Christmas than to Spring. I started really craving warm spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon and I learned that certain herbs can make us feel warmer and improve circulation. I began experimenting with a granola that incorporates some of these warming spices and I decided to try a version that resembled the flavors of gingerbread and that includes two "warming spices," ginger and cinnamon. It turned out great and we ate it all week for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and frozen blueberries. We hope you enjoy this crunchy and perfectly spiced Gingerbread and Raisin Granola!
3 cups of oats
1 ½ cups of chopped pecans
¼ cup of pepitas
1 tsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ cup of molasses or honey or maple syrup*
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ cup of raisins**
*Molasses is rather strong but essential for authentic gingerbread flavors. If you don’t like the flavor, honey or maple syrup are great substitutes. You can also use half molasses and half honey so you still get that gingerbread goodness!
*Raisins can be baked with the rest of the ingredients, however, we found that they were a bit hard because they lose their moisture upon baking. There are many granola recipes where raisins are baked along with the granola, but we prefer them to have their original texture, so we suggest adding them after the granola is done baking.
Very Veggie Enchiladas
I think winter is really starting to get to me. I’ve been craving things I usually make in the summer like these Very Veggie Enchiladas. I always make these on our family summer vacations to the lake. We all take turns making dinner for our group of 14, and I pretty much always make this. I love how tangy the enchilada sauce is and the veggie filling is perfection! It’s a perfect Make Ahead solution for lunches or dinners for the week. Just simply reheat and you can have a Mexican fiesta any night of the week!
2.5 cups of tomato sauce*
1 T chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp oregano
2 T olive oil
16 ounce of sliced mushrooms
1 green bell pepper diced
1 yellow onion sliced
3 T taco seasoning*
3-4 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 flour tortillas
Chopped cilantro for topping
Directions (makes 10 enchiladas)
I found a recipe for a “cake batter smoothie” by Oh She Glows almost 10 years ago. I fell in LOVE with that dessert smoothie/shake and shared it with all of my family and friends as an alternative for a shake like dessert! As the years went on, I found that I was craving the flavors of this smoothie in the morning, so I adapted it to make it suitable and healthy enough for breakfast, but... trust me, it doesn’t taste healthy at all! My sister recently told me that it was a life-saver for her in the early stages of her pregnancy when she couldn’t stomach very much. I hope you enjoy this delicious Make Ahead of Monday favorite!!!
1 cup unsweetened almond or oat milk
1 frozen banana
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 T cocoa powder
1 T Peanut butter**
1 T raw hemp seed*
1 handful of fresh spinach
2 ice cubes
Directions to Make Ahead of Monday -
Directions to make RIGHT NOW -
*We like peanut butter best because it has the most protein content among the nut butters, but other nut butters taste great too!
** Raw hemp seed can be found at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. It’s a great source of plant based protein and can be added to smoothies, and cereal.
I first discovered jackfruit on our vacation to Tucson this fall. I had the very best jackfruit tacos at this incredibly popular vegan Mexican restaurant called Tumerico. If you are in the Tucson area, you should check it out! I couldn’t believe how authentic the jackfruit taco tasted and how filling it was. Since then I have made a few jackfruit recipes and have been experimenting with it in various ways (more to come!). My first creation turned out great and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use this unripe canned jackfruit! If you do not wish to venture into jackfruit, I have an equally yummy option to add chickpeas instead, which can be found in the “notes” section. Chicken noodle soup was always my favorite when I was a meat-eater and this is the closest I have come to replicating those flavors. The best part about soup, is that it’s make-ahead friendly and also can be frozen for a quick meal in the future. I hope you enjoy this Vegan Jackfruit “chicken” Noodle soup!
Vegan Jackfruit “chicken”Noodle Soup
Makes 8 servings
2 - 20oz cans of Jackfruit (in brine or water, not in syrup!)**
2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for sauteing jackfruit
5 cloves of garlic chopped
4 large carrots peeled and chopped
4 large celery stalks chopped
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 cup of chopped fresh curly parsley leaves
1 tablespoon of dried basil
8 cups of veggie broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked noodles - preferably Rotini
I am a music teacher, professional musician and a vegetarian. I created this site with the mission to share recipes that make life a little more organized, and enjoyable!